Intelligence Versus Knowledge


Share on LinkedIn

(another late night epiphany brought to you by father time and beer)

I was reading a post on the future of activity streams at SocialCast’s blog, and I read a sentence that caught my attention. Somewhere near the middle of the post, Monica Wilkinson (the author) is discussing how she uses activity streams and what she likes about them, and says:

I have a deep appreciation for the power of Activity Streams as a mechanism to foster collective intelligence and productivity. I believe that a company that has good guidelines, good people, good tools and effective monitoring does not need central approvers.

I agree with that statement in certain cases but one word caught my attention: intelligence as opposed to knowledge.

For a very long time maintained two beliefs:

  1. collaboration relies on sharing knowledge, and
  2. activity streams make it impossible to generate and support knowledge due to their dynamic nature.

I think of intelligence as real-time use of information, knowledge as stored use of information. One cannot recall intelligence, but can search and recall (and reuse – key point) knowledge. This has been one of the most ardent protests I had against activity streams (including Twitter, Chatter, Yammer, and – yes – SocialCast): they are incapable of generating knowledge and therefore not suitable for collaborative enterprises. They do provide information, intelligence as Ms Wilkinson sagely points, but without the proper conversion to knowledge, it is irrelevant.

In my world knowledge is something you seek and aim for. Experiences and interactions with customers demand knowledge in several ways: the same response being made available time after time, knowing what the answer to any question is immediately, delivering the value of a proper answer and more. Knowledge is managed, intelligence is used – over time, knowledge is far more valuable. I think of intelligence as necessary in the world, but not as valuable as knowledge (or maybe, having a different value – yeah, that’s better).

Here is my question to you: do you know what your organization needs? Is it knowledge or intelligence? How are you delivering that?

The answer, my friend, is floating in the stream…

(note: I made two changes to this post after original publication. I removed the sentence that read “??????????Did I finally get confirmation of my belief? Is it true that activity streams cannot generate knowledge?” since, other than gloating about how smart I am it did little for the post and distracted from the main question of intelligence vs knowledge. I also changed the first sentence following the quote, which originally read “I agree with that statement, emphatically I must add, but one word caught my attention: intelligence as opposed to knowledge.” since deeper thoughts about the statement made me realized it only applies to certain cases and situations, not across the board).

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Esteban Kolsky
ThinkJar, LLC
Esteban Kolsky is the founder of CRM intelligence & strategy where he works with vendors to create go-to market strategies for Customer Service and CRM and with end-users leveraging his results-driven, dynamic Customer Experience Management methodology to earn and retain loyal customers. Previously he was a well-known Gartner analyst and created a strategic consulting practice at eVergance.


  1. Both things are important in today’s era.In my view without intelligence knowledge is waste and smiler like that without knowledge intelligence is waste the both things are depend on each other in life.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here